Last post we spent time talking about what chickens comprise our backyard flock. This post we will share more about our backyard chicken coop and pen, as well as how we care for our chickens! We’ve made specific choices in order to accommodate the various types of weather which come with the seasons as well as predators native to New England, so if you live somewhere else you may need to modify some details.

 Our backyard chicken coop was fairly easy to build as we are blessed to have carpenters in our family (thanks Dad, Mical and Noah!). You can also use pre-made coops or repurpose coops from large rabbit hutches or doghouses. It’s best to keep in mind that you need interior access to the coop so if you are taller, you won’t be able to climb into a small opening. It’s important to have the ability to close up the coop in the event of bad weather or a predator threat. You should have a ramp from one exit to make it easier for your chickens to exit the coop. Inside you need areas for nesting (encourages chickens to lay their eggs in the coop which makes it easier for you to collect and monitor egg production) and an option such as a 2x4 for the chickens to perch on. As with all animals, chickens should always have access to fresh water and food daily.

 

Around the coop, we constructed a pen commonly used for dogs made from metal chain link – including the roof. This helps protect our vulnerable chickens from predators on foot or by air. It also helps us lock them up at night or during bad weather for their safety. Our livestock guardian dog, Odi, provides another layer of security for all our farm animals, chickens included. You can also make a fence and roof pen from chicken wire to save money. During the day and nice weather, we allow our chickens to have free range of the farm, so we open the pen gate and let them free! While this makes it more time consuming to search for eggs and chickens at the end of the day, it’s better for their health to live as close to nature as possible. Having access to different areas of the farm and food other than chicken feed (such as bugs) not only improves the chickens’ health but also balances out the ecosystem of the farm naturally.

 

Taking care of chickens is not hard but it is important to provide them with appropriate care to give them a quality life.   On Travis Family Farm, this is what the routine is:

 7AM – let chickens out of coop (take a headcount so you know how many chickens you have each morning), check for eggs laid overnight, clean their water bucket then fill it with clean water, feed them poultry layer pellets, cracked corn, and sunflower seeds (as a treat they get romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, or leftover pasta and rice), and oyster shell and grit is added to rabbit feeder.

 3PM – these chores are completed by the younger siblings after school: collect eggs then check on chickens and water levels/cleanliness.

 6PM – round up the chickens and secure them in their pen (it’s important to take a headcount to ensure they are all accounted for), check for eggs, remove leftover food and add to compost pile. Our chickens enjoy listening to country music EVERY night!

On a weekly basis mom, Lillian, and Meysha clean out the coop, then place bedding and fresh hay into the nesting boxes.

 

With the exception of predator threats, bad weather, or other event out of our control, this is the daily routine for our chickens. If you are considering backyard chickens, be sure to keep in mind that they require care even if you are sick or traveling, so have a backup plan of someone who can cover for you if needed.

 

Do you have questions about our chickens? Post a comment or tag us on social media, we’d love to hear for you!

                                                                                                                                                               

*We raise all our animals humanely, with love, and the best possible care. While we do consume animals as a food source, this is done with the animal’s quality of life in mind as a high priority and our standards far surpass any commercial farm. We welcome conversation-starting comments, however any comments strictly bashing this topic will be deleted.